When that moment comes

November 29, 2000

“Have we not often been like George Tankervil?  We have imagined what was coming, and perhaps tested our constancy by some fire of our own kindling, and faith and courage have suddenly collapsed.  For grace to endure and to conquer is never given till the moment of need, but when that moment comes? O Savior, who dost not forget Thy Calvary, hast Thou ever failed the soul that trusted Thee?  Never, never.  By the merits of Thy Blood all is well, all shall be well.”  (Amy Carmichael)

A real super hero

A sister of one of our Sisters recently broke her leg severely and is basically off her feet for months.  I thought I would share one of her posts.  I’m sure you will be as inspired as I have been by God’s care for her.

I find myself mentally setting up my week with the goal of coping till the weekend when my family is all around me, to help, love and support me.

Week day mornings are a rush to get all my “assisted” tasks done before my children catch the bus for school…they closely follow a list to ensure I have everything within an arm’s reach so I can manage my world from the mossy green motorized lift chair.

Most mornings prior to my accident I would leisurely walk out to my kitchen and prepare coffee while marveling at the birds gathered around the feeder outside my window.  The familiar sound of my favourite couple, The Cardinals, calling back and forth, one protectively watching the surroundings as the other fed taking turns to spell each other off. God’s morning gift of greeting me through nature, as I poured the rich aromatic dark roast coffee from the bodum to my mystic monk pottery mug, never ceased to bring a grand smile of thanksgiving to my face.

I am a creature of habit, with little rewards built into my everyday routine…a decadent coffee here, pastry there, thick fluffy towels and luxurious lotion after a shower…by no means do I possess wealth, but reflecting now, I managed to physically reward myself after every spiritual exercise of obedience. Oh boy did I have things backwards.

Friday I felt stuck… dark… alone… all of the creature comforts I used to cling to have vanished, I need aid to do them all and guilt prohibits me from asking a personal support worker to grind beans for a gourmet coffee – it’s so minuscule in the grand scheme of what they do. The walls feel like they are closing in and perseverance just out of reach. Reflection on the week brings me back to our study of the sacraments, the outward sign containing God’s grace… God’s grace… I feel empty. Last week Fr. Brian didn’t come by for my weekly confession and with many funerals this week in addition to his weekly masses I hesitated to bother him for a home-visit for reconciliation. My sister reminded me that Fr. Mooney, a retired priest that lives in a nursing home a few miles west of our home had his number in the bulletin for emergencies. Is this an emergency? I just knew that my heart was in its darkest place since my accident.

Nervously I picked up the phone, I prayed ahead that God would prepare Father’s heart for my call and I wouldn’t be disturbing him. Father picked up on the 3rd ring, his soft frail “hello?” producing a lump in my throat, as if I had connected somehow with much needed light in my darkness. “Father Mooney?” I choked through tears… and explained my circumstance. “Well… let me check my book” with a few words he ripped open a spiritual oppression that had been hanging over me for days “tomorrow afternoon I will visit and hear your confession” in a whisper it was gone – the walls, the shadows, the monotony of my days – uncertainty uprooted and HOPE was firmly planted.

When I got off the phone the dam holding all of my anxiety washed away and I wept in gratitude for Fr. Mooney. I emptied my heart and lifted it to God, thanking Him for sending me a super hero – literally, a super hero… because there is NO earthly person, except a priest, who can administer reconciliation. Father Mooney, in his sunset years of mid-eighties, will pull a chair up to mine… he will garb himself in the priestly purple stole symbolizing penance and a portal will open… between time and a place outside of time. I will be joined, through Father as the veil, with my Saviour and healing will happen…the broken made whole… my GPS set straight… the gifts of The Holy Spirit watered and nurtured.

Of all the people in the world, pro-athletes, music giants, movie stars, motivational speakers, fashion designers, models and a plethora of other multi-millionaires who claim to have the answers to joy, love and success…there is a tiny white haired man whose humble life belongings line the dressers and walls in one room of a nursing home. This afternoon he will pull a worn camel coloured cardigan over his black dress shirt and white collar. He will shoulder an overcoat past the aches and pains of his eighty year old body and cover his head with an ancient fedora to keep today’s misty rain out of his downy locks. Gazing at the back of an envelope where he scribbled my address in pencil, he will find my home… and walk in the front door – his spiritual cape invisible to everyone but me.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going.”

reblogged from (ZENIT.org)

The “Waze” of Providence

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going.”

Los Angeles, December 01, 2015
Bishop Robert Barron |

Just after I was named auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Gomez, my new boss, told me to get the Waze app for my iPhone. He explained that it was a splendid way to navigate the often impossible LA traffic. I followed his instructions and have indeed used the app on practically a daily basis since my arrival on the West Coast. Waze not only gives you directions, but it also provides very accurate information regarding time to your destination, obstacles on the road, the presence of police, etc. Most importantly, it routes you around traffic jams, which positively abound in the City of Angels.

Especially in my first days and weeks on the new job, I basically had no idea where I was going-and my duties required that I be all over the place: LAX, Pasadena, Inglewood, Granada Hills, Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, etc., etc. And often I was required to journey after dark. So I would program an address into the Waze app and then listen to the mechanical female voice as she guided me to my destination. It was often the case that her instructions were counter-intuitive, which was not surprising, given the fact of my disorientation in a new environment. But I gradually learned to trust her as, again and again, she got me where I needed to be.

I’ll confess that my faith in her was sorely tested a few weeks ago. I had left my home in Santa Barbara very early in order to attend a ten o’clock meeting in Los Angeles and was making pretty good time on the 101 expressway. Suddenly, the Waze lady instructed me to get off the highway a good 25 miles from LA. Though skeptical, I followed her advice. She subsequently sent me on a lengthy, circuitous, and rather slow journey through city streets until finally guiding me back to the 101! I was so frustrated that I pounded my fist on the dashboard and expressed (aloud) my dismay. When I got to the meeting, I laid all of this out to one of my episcopal colleagues and explained that I thought there was a glitch in the system. “Oh no,” he quickly responded, “there was a tanker spill this morning on the 101, not far from where she made you exit the road. She probably saved you an hour or two of frustration.”

At that point I saw clearly something that had been forming itself inchoately in my mind, namely, that the Waze app is a particularly powerful spiritual metaphor. As Thomas Merton put it in the opening line of his most famous prayer: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going.” Spiritually speaking, most of us are as I was when I arrived in Los Angeles: lost, disoriented, off-kilter. But we have been provided a Voice and instructed to follow it. The Voice echoes in the Scriptures, of course, but also in the depth of the conscience, in the authoritative teaching of the Church, in the wise counsel of spiritual directors, and in the example of the saints. Does it often, indeed typically, seem counter-intuitive to us? Absolutely. Do we as a matter of course ignore it, presuming that we know better? Sadly, yes.

Are there some among us who, in time, learn to trust it, to guide their lives by it, even when it asks them to go by what seem circuitous routes? Happily enough, yes.There is another feature of the Waze app worth considering in this spiritual context. When you get lost or perhaps decide that you know better than the navigator, she doesn’t upbraid you or compel you to return to the route she had originally chosen. She calmly recalculates and determines the best way to get to your goal, given the choice you have made. God indeed has a plan for each of us. He has determined, in his wisdom and love, the best way for us to get to our goal, which is full union with him. But like Israel of old, we all wander from the path, convinced that we are brighter than the Lord of the universe, or perhaps just enamored of asserting our own freedom. But God never gives up on us; rather, he re-shuffles the deck, recalculates, and sets a new course for us. Watch this process, by the way, as the Scriptural narrative unfolds. And watch it happening, again and again, in your own life: what looks like a complete dead-end turns into a way forward; the wrong path turns, strangely, into the right path.No matter where you go, Waze can track you and set you on the right road, and this “all-seeing” quality has given us confidence in its direction. As we have learned to trust the mechanical voices of our GPS systems in regard to the relatively trivial matter of finding our way past traffic jams, so may we learn to trust the Voice of the one who, as the Psalmist puts it, “searches us and knows us and discerns our purpose from afar.”

Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.